CLEVELAND (12-6) at KANSAS CITY (16-3)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT, CBS
OPENING LINE: Chiefs by 6 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook
SERIES RECORD: Chiefs lead 14-11-2
LAST MEETING: Chiefs beat Browns 17-12 on Jan. 17 in divisional playoffs in Kansas City
BROWNS OFFENSE: OVERALL (16), RUSH (3), PASS (24), SCORING (14)
BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (17), RUSH (9), PASS (22), SCORING (21)
CHIEFS OFFENSE: OVERALL (1), RUSH (16), PASS (1), SCORING (6)
CHIEFS DEFENSE: OVERALL (16), RUSH (21), PASS (14), SCORING (T10)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Browns plus-5; Chiefs plus 6.
BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Baker Mayfield is suddenly surrounded by one of the most talent-laden teams in the league. Now, can he improve upon a season in which he averaged a career-worst 223 yards passing per game with 26 TD passes and eight interceptions?
CHIEFS PLAYER TO WATCH: The Chiefs know what they'll get from QB Patrick Mahomes and Co., but RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire is something of a mystery. He showed sparks during an injury-shortened rookie season, but he'll need to produce more than 808 yards rushing and four TDs over 13 games if the Chiefs are to defend their AFC title.
KEY MATCHUP: Browns pass rush vs Chiefs offensive line. The Browns added Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason to perhaps form with Myles Garrett one of the league's best pass-rushing tandems. They'll be going against a completely rebuilt Chiefs offensive line that includes C Creed Humphry, RG Trey Smith and RT Lucas Niang all making their first career starts.
KEY INJURIES: Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. is expected to play for the first time since a season-ending knee injury in Week 7 last year. Clowney missed time earlier in the week with a non-COVID-19 illness. ... Chiefs FS Tyrann Mathieu hopes to be cleared after a COVID-19 diagnosis last week. MLB Willie Gay Jr. (turf toe) landed on IR before Week 1.
SERIES NOTES: The Chiefs beat the Browns in the divisional round of the playoffs on their way to their second consecutive Super Bowl last season. With Mahomes hurt, backup QB Chad Henne threw a fourth-down pass to Tyreek Hill near midfield with 1:14 remaining to clinch the 22-17 victory. It was the first time the teams met in the postseason. ... A full crowd is expected at Arrowhead Stadium after attendance was limited to 22% of capacity (16,000 fans) last season. ... Kansas City has won four straight and five of the last six in the series. The last win by Cleveland came on Dec. 9, 2012.
STATS AND STUFF: Cleveland has lost five straight to the Chiefs. ... The Chiefs are 10-3-1 against the Browns in Kansas City. ... The Browns were 11-5 in the regular season last year, their best record since returning to Cleveland in 1999. It was only the fourth time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that they won at least 11 games. ... The Browns made their first playoff appearance since 2002 and won their first postseason game since 1994 when they beat Pittsburgh in the wild-card round. It was their first postseason road win since 1969. ... Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was the AP Coach of the Year last season. ... The Browns are 1-20-1 in openers since 1999, and have gone an NFL-record 16 games without winning their first game. ... Cleveland last won a road season opener in 1994. ... Cleveland was blown out 38-6 at Baltimore in Week 1 last season. ... Mayfield joined Peyton Manning last season as the only QBs with at least 3,500 yards passing and 20 TD passes in each of their first three seasons. ... Mayfield needs 17 yards passing to pass Tim Couch (11,131) for fifth most in Browns history. ... RB Nick Chubb had 1,217 yards from scrimmage and RB Kareem Hunt, a former Chief, had 1,145 last season. ... Chubb has scored TDs in four consecutive road games. ... Browns WR Jarvis Landry is the only player in NFL history with at least 70 catches in each of his first seven seasons. He had 72 for 840 yards last season. ... Landry has scored in six straight road games. ... Browns DE Garrett was sixth in the NFL with 12 sacks last season. He joined Aaron Donald and T.J. Watt as the only players with at least 10 sacks in each of his first three seasons. ... Browns LG Joel Bitonio earned his third straight Pro Bowl nod in 2020. ... Browns C JC Tretter has played every possible offensive snap since joining the club in 2017. ... Browns CB Denzel Ward tied for second in the NFL with 18 pass deflections last season despite playing in just 12 games. ... Kansas City has won consecutive AFC championships and five straight division titles. ... The Chiefs have won 14 straight games in September. ... The Chiefs are trying to join the Dolphins (1971-73), Bills (1990-93) and Patriots (2016-18) as the only teams to make three straight Super Bowl appearances. ... The Chiefs have won at least 10 games in seven of eight seasons under coach Andy Reid. Reid is 8-0 against the Browns, including 4-0 with Kansas City. ... Reid (221) needs five regular-season wins to pass Curly Lambeau for fifth most in NFL history. Reid has 238 wins including the playoffs. ... Reid needs two wins to become the first coach in NFL history with at least 100 with two franchises. He had 140 with Philadelphia. ... Mahomes is 10-0 in September with 32 touchdown passes and no interceptions. He has 26 games of 300 yards passing in 46 regular-season appearances. ... Mahomes threw six picks alongside 38 TD passes in 588 attempts last season. ... Mahomes has thrown a TD pass in a franchise-record 25 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. ... The Chiefs' Travis Kelce set the NFL record with 1,416 yards receiving by a tight end in 2020 despite playing 15 games. He has five straight 1,000-yard seasons. ... Kelce's 25 games of at least 100 yards receiving trail only Rob Gronkowski (29) and Tony Gonzalez (31) among tight ends. ... Hill had career-highs of 87 catches for 1,276 yards and 17 TDs last season. ... Hill and Jerry Rice are the only players since at least 1970 with at least 35 TD catches and five TD runs. Hill has 47 through the air and six on the ground. ... Mathieu led all safeties with a career-best six interceptions last season, including one in the playoffs against Cleveland. ... Chiefs DE Frank Clark had three sacks in the playoffs last season.
FANTASY TIP: Browns RBs Chubb and Hunt are both viable options against a Kansas City run defense that was obliterated by Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs are moving DT Chris Jones to defensive end and replaced him with Jarran Reed, a solid if unspectacular tackle who will be under pressure to stop the Cleveland ground game.
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